The holiday season! And the Grinch inevitably shows his face. There are the politically correct police on the liberal side and the religious police on the religious side. Each one wants to tell us that we shouldn't celebrate these holidays lest we either offend someone or engage in unholy activity.
So, according to the PC police, we can't celebrate Thanksgiving because it hearkens to the European invasion of the American continent and the genocide of Native Americans (and I am both of European ancestry and am a member of the Osage Nation). According to the religious police, we can't celebrate Christmas as the birth of Jesus because before we co-opted it, the Roman pagans celebrated that day as dedicated to the worship of a false god. Easter is gone, too, as a time to remember the resurrection of Jesus, because both the word "Easter" and the date are drawn from the worship of Ishtar, goddess of light and truth. According to some, we're all sinners if we worship on Sunday instead of Saturday and because we Gentile Christians don't keep the feasts of Israel. On and on it goes. Someone needs to read Romans 14:5-6a: "One man judges one day above another; another judges every day alike. Let each one be fully persuaded in his own mind. He who observes the day observes it for the Lord, and he who does not observe the day, to the Lord he does not observe it.
Please, people, each day is what we make it. Every day is the Lord's. The earth is the Lord's and all that is contained therein. I will surrender nothing to the devil. Whether or not a day was once a day dedicated to idolatry or had a history of genocide, it still belongs to the Lord, and I will make it what I desire to make it for Him. I will celebrate Thanksgiving as a time to honor God for His gifts and to take the lonely into our family celebration for the sake of love. How it started is of no consequence. What matters is what we fill it with today. I will celebrate the other historic Christian holidays as unto the Lord, regardless of a history of abuse or conflicts of calendar, and I will count it all as a slap in the face to the enemy of my soul who tried to claim those days as his own.
As for Christmas, what an incredible time of year when hearts are softened to receive what we believers have to give. What an incredible time to reach people with the truth of God become flesh to dwell among us. At no other time of the year are people so open to hear what we have been given as the gift of a loving Father. Why would we want to waste it by barricading ourselves in self-righteous isolation while the rest of the world stands open to receive the Father's gift of love? Never mind the materialistic greed the world falls into. Let us give gifts of love to one another and to outsiders as the wise men gave gifts to Jesus. Let's lose the religious spirit, the Grinch who masquerades as holiness, and use the opportunity the season affords us for the kingdom of God and the glory of Jesus.
R. Loren Sandford is an author, musician and the founder and senior pastor of New Song Church and Ministries in Denver, Colorado. He has a bachelor's degree in music and a Master of Divinity from Fuller Theological Seminary. In addition to pastoring, Sandford has an international teaching and worship ministry. Married since 1972, he and his wife, Beth, have two daughters and one son. They live in Denver, Colorado.
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